Disclaimer: I don't own Inuyasha.
A/N: Thanks to my excellent beta, tarrin4ever.
The Final Darkness
It's nightfall, and Inuyasha is sitting on the wooden fence in Lady Kaede's village, making an effort to appear nonchalant, but every fiber of his body betrays that he desperately craves Kagome's return from the well that leads to her own time.
I lean against the fence next to him, and seeing him look so foolish, his arms folded indignantly across his chest, concerning himself with something so utterly superficial, I can't help but feel overcome with jealousy.
This is Inuyasha's biggest problem right now. Whether Kagome will return to him in one day or two. The difference is insurmountable to him, and no doubt, if Kagome returns late, he will be agitated. But what he doesn't realize is that it doesn't matter when Kagome comes back. The point is that Kagome will return to him.
I, on the other hand, think of what I am about to do, of what is about to happen, and know that I am going to lose Sango forever. And because of my own weaknesses as a man, my own stupid shortcomings, I am powerless to stop it.
This is one of my more pathetic moments, I admit, to feel envious of a friend, to privately scoff and belittle his emotions just because I've decided to wallow in self-pity.
I have no reason to envy Inuyasha. He of all people has never had an easy life—rejected as a half-breed, betrayed by his lover, and now, fighting for his justice against a ruthless enemy. And yet, now I find myself wishing that I had his life. His problems. Ridiculous trifles like being unable to choose between two beautiful women open to your affections.
Only a few weeks ago, I wouldn't be thinking like this. I'd look into Sango's eyes and know that I am the luckiest man in the world, and I wouldn't envy any man.
But now I've changed.
Ugh. All of a sudden a searing pain shoots through my right hand.
Yeah, Inuyasha's life is looking pretty good right now.
"You know what my problem is, Inuyasha?"
He gives me a glance and opens his mouth with a smirk that suggests he is about to make some snide remark about my lecherous behavior. But then he considers the weight of my voice and the seriousness in my eyes, and he decides to keep his mouth shut, and let me speak.
"I know Sango too well."
He raises his eyebrows, intrigued, and I divulge to him what is about to happen, what I am about to do. It is sinful and disgusting and somewhere deep down inside of me, I hope that I am never forgiven for it. Yet it is with a free will that I choose to do it all the same.
As I speak and Inuyasha digests my words, there is a horror in his eyes, a sorrow and a pain there . . . but an acceptance also. He knows that he cannot prevent this fate that I have consigned myself to. I pause and take a breath.
"So you agree then? You will cover for me? You understand that Sango must never find out."
He nods, but he will not look me in the eyes. "Yeah. As sick and as dirty as I feel about it . . . I won't rat you out."
Relieved, I turn to go.
I know what he is about to say. But still I wish he wouldn't say it.
"If I could stop it, I would."
A hardened expression comes over my face, and with lowered eyes, I take my leave of him.
After all the hardship that Naraku had put Sango through, lately she had fallen into the habit of falling asleep in my arms.
Nothing would happen, of course, but she liked me to hold her, and I would readily comply.
So it was this past time that we stopped at Lady Kaede's village that Sango and I had gotten a hut all to ourselves, and it was there that I told the girl to meet me.
The girl. Shit. I didn't even know her name. Better for it to be that way, I suppose. It would be nameless, after all, the final darkness that would wrest Sango from me.
I arrive at the hut, and already the girl is waiting there for me with lustful eyes.
I stand before her, unmoving. My cursed hand is wracked with pain as though it knows what I am about to make it do.
She reaches out for me, and I close my eyes and embrace her . . . and I keep my eyes closed the entire time.
It is the first time I touch a woman and feel nothing; the first time I take no pleasure in this act.
Kagome once told me of the magic that the sorcerers of the future created. Technology, she called it. There is a device there, a mechanical being whose actions are determined by his creators. He has no will or desires of his own; he merely goes through the motions of what he is supposed to do. Kagome called that being a robot.
I am a robot now . . .
But when Sango walks into the hut she does not know that. She sees the girl and me in all our shame, and I make no attempt to hide any of it from her. She must witness this and know me for who I am.
I make no attempt to hide any of it from her. That was a lie. I hide my eyes. I cannot look into her face.
But I can still hear her cries.
Thankfully, it is over quickly and she runs out.
The girl laughs as she leaves. I stand up and start getting dressed.
"Hey, Monk, where are you going? Aren't you going to finish?"
I don't look back as I walk away.
"I am finished."
My right hand is killing me as I run through the fields. I run and I run, blindly, with no destination in mind other than to get as far away as possible, to disappear before anyone can find me.
Already I don't have much time.
Dammit. I waited too long. At this rate, I'll still be in sight of the village. And I can't let that happen. Sango must never know.
Tomorrow morning when she discovers that I have left, she will think that it was out of shame.
And it is out of shame. Partly.
Kagome will come back soon after that and Sango will tell her and the others what happened. And Kagome will try to console her. And Inuyasha will tell her that I was a no good lecher. And Shippo will say that I didn't deserve her.
And that is probably true.
And they will live on hating my memory, glad that I took my leave of them, thankful that I didn't dare show my shameful face in front of them again.
"Daaaahhhh!" I fall down, unable to run any further, clutching my cursed hand as the pain travels through my fingers, up my arm, and across my body.
I lay there in the grass, curled up in a ball, and I close my eyes, waiting for the end to come.
I only hope that Inuyasha has the good sense tomorrow to smell the direction of where I last laid and steer the others away from it so that they will never know the truth . . .
So that Sango will never know the truth. Better for her to spend the rest of her life hating me than for her to be stricken by the truth.
Yes. I may not have vanquished Naraku, but at least I can die knowing that the woman I love will live on.
The only sound I hear is of my labored breathing. I am covered with sweat and wracked by spasms, my whole body contorting, readying itself to be sucked up from within the void. The pain has become so intense that my senses are dull now . . .
And so I don't notice her approach; I don't feel her presence until I am taken up into her arms themselves.
"Miroku . . ."
I open my eyes and see Sango staring down at me with tears in her eyes as she cradles me in her arms. The look on her face says it all. She can tell that I came here to die.
" . . . No . . . no . . . you weren't supposed to know . . ."
"Why, Miroku? Why didn't you tell me?"
" . . . Because I know you . . . too well, Sango . . ."
And I think of my conversation with Inuyasha today . . .
"The Wind Tunnel will take me soon, Inuyasha, very soon. I can feel it. I don't have much time. And I know what Sango will do if she finds out that I am about to die. She will sacrifice herself with me, and I cannot let that happen. So now I intend to do something horrible to make sure that Sango survives. I do not ask for your pity or your forgiveness, Inuyasha. I only ask for my last request that you will do everything in your power to make sure that Sango never learns the truth. She must believe that I gave into my lecherous ways and then left her forever in the morning."
And here I thought I'd been so clever.
" . . . I did it because . . .you're too faithful, Sango . . . I know you would never leave my side . . . And I can't let that happen . . . Did Inuyasha tell you . . .?"
"Then how . . . how did you find me?"
"Because I know you too well, too, Miroku." And she begins to sob now. "And I know that for you to do something like that to me so calculatedly, to make it so easy for me to see . . . then something must have been terribly wrong with you. So I hid and waited and tracked you here."
She stops sobbing and glares at me angrily. "You're an asshole, you know that."
" . . . I . . . know . . ." And I smile weakly.
"And I'm not letting you get away with it. You can't get rid of me that easily." She hugs me tighter to her breast, and closes her eyes. I can feel her tears run down her cheeks and fall onto my face. "If you're leaving, then I'm coming with you. I'm going to badger you right into the next life."
"Dammit, Sango . . . NO!" I struggle to release myself from her grasp. I take her by the shoulders, and though it pains my every muscle to fight for control of my body, I start shaking her violently. "Don't you understand . . . This is exactly why I did it! . . . So that you wouldn't follow me . . ."
"I HAVE TO!"
"NO!" I hold her close to me, and she shudders as spasms course through my body. "You will live to defeat Naraku . . . and get married . . . and have lots of beautiful children . . . as beautiful as you . . ."
It feels so good to hold her, to bury my face against her and smell the sweet fragrance of her hair. I want to stay like this forever, locked in an eternal embrace with my Sango. And in my frantic delirium, I almost convince myself that it could happen. That time could stand still as long as she is in my arms. But just then, I am forced back into reason by the sound of a sickening SNAP!
I look down and gasp. The prayer beads that hold back the Wind Tunnel have broken!
Shit! No, no, not while Sango is here!
Swiftly with all my strength I push her away from me. She falls to the ground just as the wind begins to whip out from within my hand. She stares up at me in horror as the Wind Tunnel widens treacherously.
I look at her with pleading eyes. "Run."
"No, no!" She crawls to me and cries into my clothes, the wind making her hair fly about wildly.
And while she is blinded with grief, a flash of red comes running up through the fields behind her. "Sango, get away from there! I won't let you die too!"
But she shakes her head adamantly. "Stay out of it, Inuyasha!"
He looks at me and sees my eyes. And I mouth, "Take her."
And then, against her will, she is flung away from me, carried by a crimson blur that is oblivious to her shrieks and fits, her flailing arms and kicking legs.
Inuyasha clutches her face to his chest, forcing her to look away as the wind becomes a violent gale. And as the whirlwind envelops my body furiously, he presses his hands against her ears so that she cannot hear my dying screams.
I am shrouded in darkness and confusion as the torrent whips through me, consuming me, and a great blackness seems to swallow me then.
But just before the void takes my body, a smile comes to my face.
Sango is safe.
And that's all that matters.